Reddit is a popular website, there’s no doubt about it. It may not be a Twitter, but it’s a contender. One thing Reddit’s website noticeably lacks is a mobile layout. This has spurred many developers to create third party clients for the arrow-wielding network on the App Store. Currently king of the helm is Alien Blue by Jason Morrissey. This is without a doubt the most popular way to access Reddit on iOS today. Developer Nate Chiger has recently released Ruby, his Reddit client, and today we’re going to give you a quick look at some of the things the app is doing well, and some of the things that could still be improved on.
How Does It Work?
When you first open up Ruby, you’ll notice the user interface doesn’t take a lot of elements from the native iOS user interface. What you get is an app that looks pretty but needs a bit of time to learn, a trade-off you get when using a custom design. Most times it’s worth it. What you’ll notice from the get go is three main sections of the main view; the subscriptions bar, the filter bar, and the content. This makes sure your subscribed Reddits are always close to hand and makes switching between them a breeze
What I Like
Ruby is a breath of fresh air in terms of design when it comes to browsing Reddit on a mobile device. It looks good and makes use of gestures in a smart yet reserved way. Everything you need is available through large tappable buttons rather than tiny text, making the entire experience much smoother.
What I Don’t Like
First is the way it handles images. In my experience, it automatically contains the image within a set height, and any extra width is cropped off the sides. This leads to squared-off images regardless of dimension and most times requires you to tap the photo to go to the web view to see the content in its native environment. This isn’t an app killer, though if the applications environment for image content is worse than the web environment, even on mobile, than it has no purpose in being there. If you ask me, allow the images to be viewed in full in the detail view and it’ll be perfect.
My second gripe is how the detail view handles self posts. On Reddit, a self post is a text based post that delivers no karma (score) to the poster. Usually used to spark discussion or ask a question, they are quite crucial to the Reddit experience. On Ruby, tapping a self post from the main view brings you to the detail view we looked at before, though instead of giving you a brief look at the post, it gives you a link to view it on the web. In order for the user to view the post in the app environment, they must tap on the View Comments button to view the comments and the text of the post. It isn’t too much of a hassle, more of a first world problem really, though in order to stand up against other iOS clients, the detail view is going to need to become a helpful feature rather than a burden in front of the desired content.
Lastly, I found a few bugs in my week of use with Ruby. The only one I believe that needs addressing immediately, is an issue with specific content being loaded into the wrong subreddits. For instance, I would be viewing the top posts of r/All and after scrolling down a bit, would begin seeing the top posts of my front page (a collection of my subscriptions). This was immediately apparent as the upvotes went from over 2,000 to just under 200, and I could tell that from that post on it was my content, and not r/All.
To wrap things up, Ruby is genuinely a very pretty Reddit client for iOS and has a lot of potential. Although the issues experienced with the detail view and the cross-reddit contamination make the application, in it’s current version, unusable for everyday use in my opinion. Now the application is free (with iAds) so I definitely recommend you check it out on your own.
My question to you is, what’s your favourite Reddit client for iOS? With Ruby, Alien Blue, Upvote, Karma and many more, there’s a lot to choose from. Let us know in the comments below.